Sunday, 26 October 2014

Calling the Chief Social Worker

I was never impressed by the idea of a “chief social worker”. I’m sure such a person could speak to meetings and brief journalists, but to be honest I can’t see what else they are supposed to do. Perhaps somebody knows.

One thing I would expect the chief social worker to be interested in is innovation - new ideas, new approaches, new ways of working.

I searched the Internet for the contact details of the Chief Social Worker for Children, Isabelle Trowler. I found lots about her role and her experience but nothing about how to contact her. 

Isabelle – I think I have an idea (as Michael Caine said at the end of the Italian Job ). How can I tell you about it? You have no email address, no form to fill in, no point of contact.

Speak to me!! Better still, listen to me. Maybe you’ll read this – probably not but it’s worth a try?

My idea is quite simple. Child protection social workers should seek to understand and adopt approaches developed in other safety critical industries, like aviation, anaesthesia and surgery. Human Factors training (HF) emerged in civil aviation during the late 1970s and 1980s but did not gain widespread acceptance until the 1990s. It has now become mandatory for all US and European airlines. In recent years HF thinking has been found to be transferable to medical contexts such as surgery and anaesthesia. It has been found that it can also be used very successfully with child protection professionals. A short basic course of one or two days duration equips someone with sufficient knowledge to begin to practice HF thinking at work, using it to help reduce and mitigate workplace error.  Knowledge of human-factors complements important child-protection skills and helps professionals to filter complex information and identify patterns that indicate harm or risk. This sceptical, professionally curious approach is what saves lives and reduces the risk of future harm.  

Come on Isabelle. I could tell you more, a lot more. But I do need to know how to contact you. My email address is What’s yours?